Title

Parental Disciplinary Effects on At-Risk Preschoolers’ Social Competence: Implications for Parent Training Interventions

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Family & Community

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

The study relates to both the Family & Community (Strand V) and Social & Emotional Skills (Strand II) strands by examining parental use of various disciplinary strategies and their effects on at-risk children’s social competence and behavior. It further investigates how gender differences in behavioral outcomes are related to negative disciplinary strategies. The results from this study suggest that certain disciplinary strategies have a more negative impact on girls. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to share the findings to inform parents and educators regarding how gender may mediate the effectiveness of disciplinary strategies used. Additionally, implications from this study may assist educators in developing an intervention to educate parents on appropriate and effective disciplinary strategies for boys versus girls.

Brief Program Description

This study examines parental disciplinary strategies on preschoolers’ social competence. It specifically explores the influence of negative disciplinary strategies on children’s externalizing behaviors in boys versus girls. Teachers’ reports showed differences in how genders are affected by parental negative disciplinary strategies. Therefore, implications from this study may inform parenting training programs to consider a child’s gender in developing effective strategies.

Summary

With 94 percent of parents reporting use of physical discipline strategies, recent research has focused on the detrimental effects on children’s externalizing behavior and social competence (Straus and Stewart, 1999). Research has revealed significant positive correlations between physical discipline and children’s externalizing problems (Polaha, 2004; Gershoff, 2002). Additionally, the most current research has focused on parent training interventions in order to decrease harsh discipline practices and increase positive parenting. It has been found that parent training interventions have been successful in reducing harsh discipline strategies and subsequently leads to fewer externalizing problems in children, as well as greater social competence (Bjorknes and Manger, 2011; Dumas et al., 2011; Webster-Stratton, Reid, and Beauchaine, 2011). However there is a lack of research on gender differences in these effects. This study specifically examined gender differences of the effects of negative discipline strategies on children’s social competence and externalizing behavior. The data was collected from a community Early Learning Center in central Georgia. The data consisted of parental surveys and teacher social emotional evaluations using the Social Competence Behavior Evaluation (SCBE) form developed by Peter LaFreniere (1995). The children were predominantly African American three and four year-olds from an at-risk population. Significant relationships were found between negative discipline, social competence, and behavior problems for only girls and not boys. These significant differences between genders suggests that parents should adjust their approach to discipline depending on the sex of their child, as girls are expected to have a greater reaction to negative discipline. Additionally, these findings suggest that educators and professionals should take gender into account when structuring parent training interventions on discipline.

Evidence

Although there has been recent research on the negative effects of parental use of harsh discipline, there is a lack of studies that compare how the effects differ between genders. This study utilized a split data file technique in order to separate data by gender. In the preliminary analysis, 64 (27 females, 37 males) sets of data were included to examine the relationship between frequency of negative discipline strategies used by parents and teacher-rated externalizing behavior problems at school. Parents were asked to fill out a survey describing their disciplinary strategies as well as frequency of positive and negative behaviors. Teachers evaluated the child’s social competence and behavior in the classroom using the SCBE measure. After splitting the data set by gender, a linear regression was used to test whether negative discipline strategies implemented by parents significantly predicted externalizing behavior problems and other SCBE measures. It was revealed that greater use of negative discipline significantly predicted greater externalizing problems (ß = -.581, p = .001), aggression, (ß = -.564, p = .002) and anger (ß = -.410, p = .034) in girls. Negative discipline also significantly predicted negative behaviors (ß = .434, p = .024) in girls. Negative discipline did not significantly predict boys’ scores on the SCBE measure. These findings could indicate that girls are more negatively affected by harsh discipline than boys. Given that girls and boys are affected differently by discipline strategies suggests that parents should structure these strategies differently depending on their child’s sex. The evidence of gender differences from this study are important for educators and professionals to keep in mind when developing parent training interventions on effective discipline strategies. Additional results and implications will be discussed at the conference.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Kelsey Van Boxel is a senior Psychology major, with a Spanish minor, at Georgia College and State University. She has participated in three research teams over the past two years. Her experiences have involved working with faculty on research involving empathy training in preschool aged children, investigation of family values across cultures, and academic resilience of at-risk adolescent populations. Kelsey is interested specifically in the effects of parental beliefs and behaviors on children’s development and social emotional competence. Having a great deal of experience working with children, Kelsey aspires to help at-risk and disordered children cope and overcome adversity. She plans to advance her education by pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in developmental psychopathology. Kelsey aims to continue exploring these areas of study in graduate school with further emphasis on treatments and interventions.

Amelia Fitch is a senior Psychology major at Georgia College & State University, thoroughly involved in research on the social emotional development of at-risk preschoolers. Recent research projects include gender stereotypes in African American parents and their influence on children’s toy selection. She is also involved in an empathy training program for three and four year-olds. Amelia is also interested in contemporary issues in education, seeking a degree in applied developmental psychology as well as licensure as a school psychologist. She hopes to promote positive outcomes in at-risk children by serving as an advocate for this population in the public school system.

Elizabeth Cason is a junior Psychology major with a pre-occupational therapy concentration at Georgia College and State University. She is currently participating in her first research team which is studying empathy training for three and four year olds. She hopes to use this experience as a stepping stone to continue research in the field of social emotional development. Elizabeth chose to pursue research in the field of developmental psychology because of the participants’ need for treatment at a vulnerable stage in their lives. She plans to advance her education by pursuing a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy to help clients of all ages learn to manage or overcome mental and physical disabilities.

Candace Cosnahan is a senior Psychology major at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga. She is involved in a Developmental Research Lab where her interests are social-emotional competence and the presence of siblings in children, and in a Social Research Lab where her interests include inducing mindfulness and studying how it impacts a person's life physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. She has currently combined these two research interests in a study that induces mindfulness in children to study the impacts of executive functioning in this group. Her future plans are to continue to integrate her interests in children and mindfulness in graduate school.

Tsu-Ming Chiang, Ph.D., Professor of Psychological Science, has been teaching at the Georgia College & State University (GC&SU) for 21 years. Dr. Chiang received her Ph.D. from University of Wyoming in Developmental Psychology in 1992. She has devoted her research in understanding children’s social emotional development and parental-child relationships for the past 25 years. She conducted several cross-cultural studies on parental beliefs and children’s social emotions in response to infraction of standards. An article entitled “Maternal attributions of Taiwanese and American toddlers’ misdeeds and accomplishments”, was published in the Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 2000. Dr. Chiang’s primary research is to examine how to improve young children’s social emotional competence in preschools and in the Head Start programs that serves underprivileged children. She received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006 and Undergraduate Research Mentor awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014. She establishes a laboratory in a community Early Learning Center where she connects college students to work with children in the community. One of the major goals for her research and teaching is to promote children’s social and emotional competence.

Keyword Descriptors

discipline, externalizing behavior, gender, social competence, parent training, at-risk children

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Parental Disciplinary Effects on At-Risk Preschoolers’ Social Competence: Implications for Parent Training Interventions

Harborside Center East and West

This study examines parental disciplinary strategies on preschoolers’ social competence. It specifically explores the influence of negative disciplinary strategies on children’s externalizing behaviors in boys versus girls. Teachers’ reports showed differences in how genders are affected by parental negative disciplinary strategies. Therefore, implications from this study may inform parenting training programs to consider a child’s gender in developing effective strategies.